Saturday, November 17, 2007

A High Priest

WARNING - this is not my typical blog post, but after spending a few day sin Hebrews, I am compelled to write about it. Hebrews is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Why? Quite simply, because it so clearly outlines what I consider two of the most amazing things in the world;
1) We, mere mortals, human beings, 'created beings,' have direct access and a personal relationship with GOD - the uncreated one, the Holy one, the same God of the OT where merely to come into His presence meant certain death.
2) Jesus, God in human flesh, sits at the right hand of God mediating on our behalf.

me·di·a·tor (md-tr)n.
1. One that mediates, especially one that reconciles differences between disputants.

How it used to be (click here): STOP - if you just skipped over that link, go back to it and read the passage it takes you to. The "old order" meant no relationship with God. It required that you go through a priest who, in effect was a "mediator" between you and God. The only time that anyone could be close to God was once a year, and that was only for the high priest. And even then, he had to enter with blood which was offered for his sins, and the sins of the people. As we read later in verse 22, "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." In order to understand how great the gift it, we must first understand how it used to be. Again, we read here - did you catch that? The blood of animals did NOT cleanse the guilty of their sins - it simply served as a reminder of sins. "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."

We were lost, broken, trapped with a law that merely pointed out our sins, trapped with a ritual system that merely reminded us of that sin, having to go through a priest to get to God. Yes, God was there, but He simply dwealt with us, not IN us.

The new order (read here): Enter Jesus. God in flesh, "Immanuel" ("the 'with us' God"), the "Prince of Peace," the "Lamb that was Slain before the Foundation of the World," the "Holy One." No, the blood of animals cannot cleanse us...if so, there would have been no need to continue the sacrifices. So what is the solution? The blood of Jesus. Read it here - read it again, here. Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, would die for me?

The new order - we still have to go through a priest, but that priest is Jesus. He now resides in that "inner sanctuary" and has become our high priest forever (here). Not only that, but through His Spirit, He also lives IN us (see here), and furthermore, he now sits at the right hand of God, mediating for us (here, here and here). Here's another one: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time." (I Timothy 5:6-7). And again: "So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body." (Heb 10:19-21, Message).

So what's the point of all this? First, this kind of "mediator," this kind of "Savior," this kind of "gift" DEMANDS a response from us. That response becomes worship. Not worship as in singing songs, but...

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1)

It is a high calling and not an easy road, but let us never be shaken - "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (Eph 2:4-5).

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